POLICE Personnel detailed from Obuasi to aid their colleagues at Ashanti Bekwai in ensuring that a planned demonstration in the town does not degenerate into violence ended up fighting the demonstrators with rubber bullets and tear gas.
Nearly 100 police personnel led by the Obuasi Divisional Police Commander, ASP Osei Ampofo Duku indiscriminately fired several canisters of tear gas and rubber bullets into the demonstrating crowd.
The demonstrators, mainly youth, had gathered at the palace of Nana Kakari Appaw II, chief of Bekwai, to present a petition to him.
Ten of the demonstrators sustained varying degrees of injuries and were rushed to the Bekwai Government Hospital for medical attention.
Three pupils from the Central International School, located very close to Nana Kakari Appaw's palace, also sustained serious injuries when tear gas and rubber bullets hit their school.
The pupils who were said to be in unstable conditions and had therefore been transferred to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi for intensive treatment.
Eyewitnesses who spoke to DAILY GUIDE accused the police of poorly handling people who besieged the Bekwai Government Hospital to sympathize with their injured relatives, contending that the police bombarded these people with shots of tear gas and rubber bullets.
In the ensuing melee, the administrator of the hospital, Nana Yaw Manu and the hospital's chief matron, Madam Gladys Kankam were hit by rubber bullets on the head and thigh respectively.
One Kofi Boapong, a trader from Kumasi who was selling shoes close to the hospital at the time of the incident, was also injured in the cheek and chest in the process.
Also, a one-week-old baby who was cruising at the back of her mother when the police raided the hospital was feared dead as a result of suffocation from the tear gas.
According to eyewitnesses, the police officers jumped over the wall to gain access to the premises of the hospital when security guards at the gate refused them entry.
The witnesses told this paper that the police attack was so dreadful that patients and healthy people who had visited the area had to run helter-skelter for dear life.
When DAILY GUIDE arrived at the scene at about 10:30 am, the police personnel who went on the rampage had dispersed and normal economic activities were yet to bounce back.
The Bekwai Government Hospital, which provides medical services to the communities in the Amansie East District, has been temporarily closed down in view of the murderous police attack.
Schools in the town particularly the Central International School were also closed down in the heat of the police raid.
Supporters of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) in Bekwai have been demonstrating for the past four days to register their displeasure about the retention of Hon Edusei Poku as the parliamentary candidate for the party in the December 7 parliamentary poll.
The Deputy Minister of Fisheries had polled 70 votes to beat his only challenger, Mr. Osei Wusu, Chief Executive Officer of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), who recorded 69 of the votes in the party's primary held last Saturday at Kokofu.
One of the demonstrators, Mr. Eric Ntam, Ex-Amansie East Urban Council Chairman told DAILY GUIDE that supporters of the party strongly believed that the Deputy Fisheries Minister was re-elected under dubious circumstances.
For instance, he alleged that some people who were not delegates but perceived to be close allies of Hon Adusei Poku, in spite of protests, were allowed to vote.
Mr. Ntam accused both regional and constituency executives of the party who went to supervise the primary of openly campaigning for Hon Adusei, saying if the election was conducted in a free and fair environment, there was no way the Deputy Fisheries Minister would have carried the day.
The ex-chairman indicated that their discontentment of the choice of Hon Adusei was premised on the fact that the incumbent MP, due to his poor performance and disrespect for constituents including chiefs and opinion leaders, had become unpopular in the constituency.
He said irrespective of the police brutalities against the demonstrators, they would continue to demonstrate until the national secretariat of the party declares the results of last Saturday's primary null and void and organizes a fresh one.
According to him, if the party fails to listen to them after the demonstration, they will push Mr. Osei Wusu to go independent so as to save the party from losing the seat in the December parliamentary poll.
Meanwhile, Nana Kakari Appaw has prevailed on the demonstrators and the residents of the town to let calm and peace reign while they exhaust appropriate channels to get their grievances heard.
From Morgan Owusu, Ashanti Bekwai